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How To Be Happy For The Holidays Series: Day 3

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Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3

Happy For The Holidays

Yesterday it was announced on the J.Crew Instagram feed that I was one of the 5 chosen winners of their #shinyponies shoe photo contest! I took a picture of my all-time favorite pair of shiny, metallic, silver oxfords that are my go-to for parties around the holidays! And, of course, they were accompanied in the photo by a pile of fruit! I guess you can say Fancy Footwear and Fruity Foods are my Forte! A snapshot of my favorite holiday party kicks plus my ideal on-the-go healthy snacks was actually the perfect photo to segway into today's Holiday Hang-up, Tempting Sweets + Treats // Overeating + Overindulging // Regret + Remorse

If you haven't already, check out Day 1 and Day 2 to get clued in on my Happy For The Holidays series and read some of my other simple solutions to common Holiday Hang-ups! Here goes Day 3!

Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | J.Crew #shinyponies Contest Winner
Holiday Hang-up 3

Everywhere you go, there are tempting sugar cookies frosted with Santa’s face at checkout stands and holiday parties are filled with rich and indulgent dishes and desserts. You can’t turn down a cocktail with an old friend in town and you’ll have to have a few more in order to make it through that family gathering! It can be tricky figuring out how to make an appearance at all of your social events without overindulging in food and drink, which is all too often followed by regret, remorse, and self-loathing. With these Simple Solutions, you won't need to worry about holiday weight gain or joining a gym after the New Year!

Simple Solution 3

Plan Ahead

Something I can give myself a pat on the back for is finding all of the loopholes to successfully navigating any buffet line on any occasion. My first line of advice is to plan ahead. Get filled in on as many details as you can about the event you're attending—time, place, type of food (if any), and it can also be helpful to decide ahead of time how late you're going to stay and to have an exit strategy. If you plan to drink, try limiting yourself to one drink per hour, or just a couple of drinks for the entire night. Planning ahead can take the guesswork out of what could be an otherwise sticky situation and a rough morning after.


If you know what to expect from your own family’s get together, that’s one thing, but when you have no idea what the food and drink situation is going to be like, it’s best to go in mentally prepared. If you've been doing a good job of eating healthy and feeling great, there's no reason to fall off the wagon during the holidays. Go over potential scenarios in your mind, like when someone tries to get you to take a shot but you don't do shots—get tough and get used to standing your ground! When someone passes around the tray of cookies, if you've already decided ahead of time that you aren't going to eat dessert, come up with a polite way of turning them down. Teach yourself to say "no" twice, because others will persist—but if you're confident and firm, people will understand and respect you for being you!


The biggest part of being prepared is showing up with your tank at least half full. Now I don't mean stuff yourself before a dinner party, but the biggest no-no is to skip meals beforehand. Pre-eat! Blend up a fruit smoothie, fix a big bowl of fruit, or chop a veggie salad. These are all perfect ways to get some healthy food in before you show up to an event that may only be providing sweets and sugary drinks! If you show up at a party starving, your willpower will be at a minimum, and you’re going to want to devour anything and everything in sight, which will be followed by a stomachache and disappointment in yourself.


Another thing I like to do is bring a snack that can fit in my purse or one that I can leave in my car. I almost never leave the house without a banana and/or an apple, no matter where I'm going. I also like to carry a whole food energy bar like a Larabar in my purse—they primarily consist of dates blended with other unsweetened dried fruit and nuts, which is perfect to hold you over, and can also make a super healthy and sweet dessert replacement! 


If you’re going to a potluck, don’t show up empty handed—this is the perfect opportunity to shine! I love whipping up one or two of my favorite healthy and delicious plant-based dishes to share, and to enjoy for myself! It's also a great way to ensure that you'll be able to eat something healthy that you enjoy if the other options aren't the greatest.

Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3


Sometimes I'll forego unhealthy holiday desserts for my own when I get home, like my dairy-free, refined sugar-free Mint-Chip Banana "Nice" Cream, pictured to the left!

If you do choose to indulge, just have a small slice of pie, or one cookie instead of two. If you followed these steps, you will have already Planned Ahead and Prepared by deciding you were going to enjoy just one dessert, so you won't have to battle with yourself when you're faced with the temptation. Remember to be mindful—eat slowly and use all of your senses to fully enjoy your food. You will get much more out of an indulgence if you savor it rather than mindlessly devouring it. And finally, whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up! When you're done treating yourself, give yourself a pat on the back for sticking to your game plan, and move on with life! 

Just remember the Six P's and you'll be golden:

Plan ahead, Prepare, Pre-eat, Pack, Provide, and Pleasure

Holiday Hang-ups Around Our Home

*Each day I'll also be sharing some "holiday hang-ups" around our home—because if there's one thing we love to do, it's decorate for Christmas.

The Mantle

The fireplace mantle is a focal point that sets the tone and can really bring a home to life throughout the seasons—especially at Christmas time! I'm a sucker for hand-lettering, especially when it involves a chalkboard, so when I stumbled upon this cool pine wood slice at Michaels, I decided to turn it into a chalkboard! It's a fun way to change up the mood in a room every couple of months with a new phrase or design! I also took the mirror frame, which used to be a deep red color and used antiquing medium to give it a washed out, neutral tone. Every year I buy some live garland from Trader Joe's to really bring the holiday decor to life! To finish it off, I mixed in some silver and gold Christmas flourishes and strung some wire twinkling lights throughout!

Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3
Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3
Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3
Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3

Enjoy Food, Festivities, + Family

Now that you know the Six P's to navigating any holiday gathering, don't get hung-up on the food! Food brings people together to enjoy each other's company. Laugh and engage in meaningful conversation and be fully present and mindful of your surroundings. Look at all of the beautiful holiday decorations, dance to the cheerful music, make your rounds and try to strike up a conversation with someone new, and breathe in all of the Christmas spirit!

Stay tuned for the next installation of my 7 Holiday Hang-ups + 7 Simple Solutions. In No. 4, I'll discuss a biggie: Family (Dys)functions // The In-Laws // Tension + Drama.


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Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design |